Planning a Perfect Summer Getaway to Acadia National Park This Year

Courtesy Mae Johnson

Acadia National Park is one of the smallest national parks, but its stunning nature that allows for various fun activities makes it one of the most visited spots in the country. 

Acadia National Park’s postcard-worthy landscapes and diverse flora and fauna are just some of the reasons why visitors flock here year-round. The sprawling 47,000-acre park in Maine is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore its hiking trails and hidden paths. And with more than 25 lakes and ponds, fishing here is a must. Read on for a handy guide on everything you need to know about Acadia National Park to plan a memorable summer vacation.

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park
Courtesy Brian Gully

Where is Acadia National Park?

Located primarily on Mount Desert Island (some parts of it are on the Schoodic Peninsula and Isle au Haut), Acadia National Park is a short, 10-mile drive from The Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport. Cape Air provides year-long service from Boston, making air travel the most convenient way to get to the park. The distance from Portland, Maine, to Acadia National Park is about 160 miles. If you have time, take the scenic Route 1 along the Maine coastline. Explore some of the state’s most beautiful sights along the way, such as Giant’s Stairs and Penobscot Bay.

RELATED: These 11 Luxury Destinations Are Perfect for Family Travel This Summer

Acadia National Park Pass

The National Park Service requires all visitors from May to October to have an entrance pass. The easiest way to purchase one is to download the Recreation.gov app that is also an excellent resource for making campsite or vehicle reservations.

Passes vary from weekly ($30) to annual ($55) for cars, weekly for a motorcycle ($25), and individual ($15) if you’re hiking or riding a bike. If you love visiting the country’s national parks, the best option is an Annual Interagency Pass ($80) that gives you unlimited access to all national parks in the U.S. for 12 months, valid from the purchase month.

Hiking at Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park
Courtesy Mae Johnson

Acadia National Park Hotels

The area around Acadia National Park is full of quaint B&Bs and hotels—the perfect base for your New England adventure. A convenient option is the historic Bar Harbor Grand Hotel, located a short walk from Bar Harbor’s waterfront and minutes from the park. Sip your morning coffee on the property’s patio, or take a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool after a day of hiking.

Overlooking Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands, the sprawling Bar Harbor Inn & Spa will treat you to stunning waterfront vistas, modern amenities, and fresh local specialties.

The Chiltern Inn & Acadia Carriage House in Bar Harbor offers four elegantly furnished rooms and three suites with private entrances for those looking for more secluded accommodation. The former Victorian ambassador's estate also features an art gallery, a home theater, and an indoor spa with a 32-foot lap pool and a hot tub.

Looking for something closer to Mother Nature? Under Canvas, the luxury camping provider has a waterfront glamping site located about a 30-minute car ride from the park. The spacious tents feature private bathrooms, king-sized beds, and lounge areas.

Private Acadia National Park cabins are also available through a variety of rental websites. These are usually located within walking distance from the park and are a great family-friendly option.

Acadia National Park Camping

There’s no better way to unwind, enjoy the fresh air, and take in the beauty of Acadia National Park than spending a few nights camping in one of the four campgrounds in the park. You need to book your spot online at least a day in advance. But due to the limited capacity, the National Park Service recommends you do so as early as possible. Blackwoods, Schoodic Woods, and Seawall campgrounds are open for tents, RVs, trailers, and caravans. Duck Harbor Campground, located on the rugged Isle au Haut, only accessible by boat, allows tents only.

RELATED: The Most Luxurious Glamping Sites Around the World

Hiking on North Bubble Trail in Acadia National Park
Courtesy Mae Johnson

Best Hikes in Acadia National Park

With over 150 miles of scenic hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads perfect for leisure walks, Acadia National Park will definitely keep you moving and exploring throughout your entire stay. Before you hit the trails, though, pick up an Acadia National Park map from one of the Visitor Centers and follow the safety guidelines listed on it.

A few of the most popular and must-do hikes include a visit to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest peak on Mount Desert Island. The best way to experience the gorgeous vistas that open up from the summit is to get there before dawn and catch the first rays of morning sunshine over the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a pro in climbing to make it to the top. There is an easy, paved, and family-friendly loop trail that will get you there in no time.

Another moderate hiking option is the Ocean Path trail that allows you to explore the rugged shores of Acadia National Park. Those looking for some Instagram-perfect shots should consider the South Bubble Mountain trail that leads to an enormous boulder standing on the edge of a cliff.

Nighttime view of the stars at Acadia National Park
Courtesy Mae Johnson

When to Go to Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park’s weather is best in the summer. With daytime temperatures in the 45 F to 90 F range, most people choose to visit the park from May through October. This is also the only time of the year when all campgrounds, trails, roads, and park facilities are open. Of course, you still need to come prepared for sudden weather changes and pack accordingly.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what the park has to offer year-round. Fall in Acadia National Park is absolutely stunning. Nature puts on a spectacular show in mid-October when fall foliage peaks. The annual Night Sky Festival usually occurs at the end of September when light pollution in the park is minimal. Amateur astronomers and star-gazing enthusiasts can enjoy Acadia’s star-studded sky and participate in workshops and special events.

With almost 32 miles of ski tracks and 45 miles of carriage roads perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, winter sports fans can rest assured that winter in Acadia National Park is also worth their time. Dog sledding, ice fishing, and snowmobiling are other must-do cold-weather activities that draw visitors to the park from December through March.